Teageeking while citytrippin’, love it! A few weeks ago I desperately needed a teashot while staying in Barcelona for a few days and I found it, barely alive, at the Caj Chai Tea House. This time, my girlfriend took me to Londen for a surprise birthday weekend. No Google needed: I immediately knew I HAD to go to the store of China Life (from Mei Leaf) in Camden.
When it comes to China Life I try not to become a groupie, although it’s hard to resist. During my whole 26 years on this planet I haven’t been a big fan of anything. I had a season ticket at my local football club FC Utrecht for one year and there was a stage in my life when I was rocking on Limp Bizkit in my living room while my broken leg was in a plaster cast. Until that one time I tripped, fell right onto my just used po chair and there, Limp Bizkit became a lifelong trauma (Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’).
Nothing could grab me that much that it would make me a huge fan. But somehow China Life does. Of course, it has something to do with tea. I like tea, they sell exceptional tea. There’s a match. But there are more shops that sell good teas, so what makes China Life special? My teahero Don Mei is certainly one of the factors. His videos on the YouTube channel of China Life were and still are of great guidance to me in this vast world of tea. I not only learned a lot from him by watching him travel to the lands of tea and see him taste all different kinds of tea, but by sharing his passion the way he does, he sparked something in me that makes me want to go all-in for tea.
Most importantly, China Life has incredibly good tea. I just love every single one I’ve tried so far. So when my girlfriend and I were heading to Camden for our first stop in London, I was just really excited about the prospect of drinking another great tea at their store. Once we entered the store there was not the familiar teashop smell entering our noses. It was more medicinal. Which made sense when we saw that not only China Life, but also AcuMedic (Chinese medicine) was part of the huge store on the main road in Camden. Before my girlfriend and I could discuss anything I was lost in the teapots, the Gong Fu Guru set and all the different kind of teas in the shop. Yeah, what tea can do with a grown up…
I decided to leave the tea shopping for later and we sat down in the Shanghai 1930s style tea corner, where we had two teas. I would recommend one tea for two persons because it was a lot, but we wanted to try a couple of different things. My girlfriend chose the Amber GABA Oolong and I doubted between the Song Zhong Dan Cong and the Tiger Spirit, choosing the latter. Pretty incredible that you can session a Pu’er worth 150 pounds (for the cake) for 3,5 pounds in the teahouse!
The teas were served in Connoisseur Glass Tea Brewer, but I later learned that they will be serving all their teas Gong Fu style starting November 2016, which is a great addition to the teahouse. The Amber GABA Oolong I tried before and it was again a beautiful oolong with notes of dried raisins and a honey taste to it. But we both were hooked to the Tiger Spirit. What a beautiful full, smooth, gentle and at the same time very outspoken Pu’er that was. It was spicy and fruity and had no disturbing bitterness at all, and it was vibrant and warming on a cold autumn day. Incredible.
I left the Tiger Spirit cake in his China Life cage as the weekend was still long and walked out of the shop with a new cold water brew bottle, Duck Sh*t Oolong, Anji Bai Cha and Bulang Hong Cha. The shop and the menu offer loads and loads of tea, so be sure to keep your eyes open everywhere you walk because there are many, many treasures around. And Don Mei? He was not around in the teashop, but I suspect his staff to be his clones… With the same passion, the same expertise, they will teageek with you as long as you like. Go there!